Nearly two years later
Sirius stood at the front of the briefing room in the Special Projects training centre. He wore Auror robes, the Special Project crest emblazoned across the left breast, a small helm embroidered above it to indicate his status as trainer. His hair had grown long and was pulled back into a loose plait. His hands were loosely wrapped around the edge of the podium in front of him. James’ signet ring still sat on his little finger and both the gold and ruby Potter family rings resting on the index. He took a deep breath to wake himself up from the long day of holding monitoring spells in place. Picturing what Harry’s excitement would look like when he got home, even late as he already was, he pushed himself to find the energy for a speech.
He looked down at the tired, muddy and bruised Aurors in front of him and smiled proudly and the men and women he had handed picked to train for the promotion.
“You have been through hell today, at this point you probably want to kill me and can’t imagine being able to come back tomorrow and doing this all again. You thought that training to be a bog standard Auror was tough but this is quite a different challenge.
This is day one of three months of the hardest training you will ever do. I’m not going to let you slack off. I don’t give second chances, you’ve already seen that two of you are already back down in the general office. They are done. They don’t get to try again. It’s not going to get easier and only the best of you will join our ranks, there is no limit for how many off you Moody will accept. All you have to do is survive. But this is all worth it. You will never find a place or a group of people who are more like home, who will never doubt you and will always fight for you. We will always believe in you and never abandon you. When everyone and everything you built your life around crumbles away we will stand by you to the very last soul.” Sirius took another deep breath and relying on practice to keep his voice steady he spoke, carefully meeting the eyes of every person in the room.
“A good man once told me,
‘When you can’t run, you walk.
When you can’t walk, you crawl.
When you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you.’”
A movement by the door caught his eye, looking up he spotted Caradoc slipping into the room.
“In special projects, when you can’t run, someone will drag you to safety.
When you can’t walk, they will help you hobble.
When you can’t crawl,” he lifted his gaze to meet Caradoc’s eyes and with a soft smile finished, “When you can’t even crawl, your partner will carry you home.”
He waved one hand in dismissal and waited quietly, eyes still locked on Caradoc, as the room was swiftly cleared.
Caradoc pushed the door shut behind the last one as Sirius stepped off the plinth and started to cross the room. Caradoc walked forward to meet him halfway, instinctively matching pace with Sirius so they met in the dead centre of the room. The two men met and in one swift move wrapped their arms around each other.
“The first day? Really, Sirius? How did the two of them manage to piss you off that fast?” Sirius pressed his face into Caradoc’s neck and muttered,
“You really do not want to know.” He tiredly lifted his head and wrapping one hand around the back of Caradoc’s head he gently pulled the other man down into a gentle kiss. After a moment Caradoc pulled back and with a soft grip he held Sirius’ face forward and firmly said,
“I love you.” Sirius smiled at Caradoc’s words. Between them magic flared and mingled as the days old bond between them thickened itself, twining them more closely together.
“And I you.”